Feb 23, 2013, 9:34 AM EDT
Game of the Day: No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Georgetown (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
The story lines are not in short supply Saturday. No. 11 Georgetown and No. 8 Syracuse meet at the Carrier Dome for the final time as Big East members. The two teams are tied atop the conference standings. A record-breaking on-campus crowd is expected to be in attendance. The fire of the rivalry has been stoked by some inflammatory comments by Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams.
The spirit of Big East basketball, a spirit that so many have eulogized with the onset of conference realignment, will be showcased Saturday.
James Southerland has been a big boost to the Orange lineup since returning to the lineup, scoring in double digits in each of the four games he has played in and helping to extend defenses out toward the perimeter. Georgetown’s biggest obstacle will be avoiding the offensive woes that plagued it early in the season, those of which have mostly disappeared in the past 11 games.
Who’s Getting Upset?: Kentucky (-2) vs. Missouri (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
In two games without Nerlens Noel, Kentucky was blown out by Tennessee and came together as a team to beat Vanderbilt and avoid a bad loss. Against Missouri Saturday at home, the biggest concern will be in the backcourt and on the glass. Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin played well against Vanderbilt, but will be tested against Phil Pressey and Jabari Brown. If Harrow slips back into the slump we saw in his two games previous to that, when he went scoreless, it affects the rest of the offense for the Wildcats.
On the glass, Willie Cauley-Stein is now tabbed with picking up the slack without Noel. He had his biggest game of the year against Vanderbilt with 20 points and seven rebounds, but meets an experienced Alex Oriakhi in the frontcourt Saturday.
Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: No. 16 New Mexico vs. No. 22 Colorado State (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Simply put, Colorado State is tough to beat at home. The Rams have won 27 straight games at Moby Arena, good for the third-best active streak in the country. On Saturday, the battle begins down low. Colorado State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, even owning a +18 rebounding margin in a loss to New Mexico earlier in the year. To combat that, New Mexico will need production from big man Alex Kirk, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds just two games ago against UNLV.
In the matchup earlier this season between these two teams, the Rams struggled with turnovers and shot just 37 percent from the floor, which contributed to the loss. On Saturday, that will mean getting guard Dorian Green more involved and efficient.
Five Things to Watch For
1) No. 9 Kansas suffered one of the ugliest losses of the season for any national title contender when they went on the road Feb. 6 and lost to TCU. Since that loss, the Jayhawks have two dominating wins and a hard-fought double OT victory over Oklahoma State. Expect Bill Self’s team to be back in stride on Saturday.
2) Arkansas blew out No. 5 Florida when the Gators traveled to Fayetteville on Feb. 5. The problem is, the Razorbacks are a different team on the road. They are 1-5 on the road in SEC play, as compared to 7-0 at home. Arkansas tips off in Gainesville at 7 p.m. ET.
3) Two of the best players in mid-major basketball and in the country as a whole face off Saturday when Doug McDermott and Creighton meet Matthew Dellavedova and Saint Mary’s. McDermott has the Bluejays back on the right track after a three-game losing streak, but Dellavedova and the Gaels will try to show what the second-best team in the WCC can do.
4) Villanova sits in the bubble conversations with a pair of big wins over Top 5 teams. The Wildcats would go a long way toward helping their NCAA tournament hopes if they could get a win over No. 17 Marquette at home on Saturday.
5) California got a big win over No. 23 Oregon on Thursday when Justin Cobbs hit a last-second jumper. That win put them squarely in the race for the top of the Pac-12. Nothing would be worse than following up that big victory with a letdown loss to Oregon State.
The Top 25
No. 2 Miami vs. Wake Forest (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. San Diego (7:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)
No. 5 Florida vs. Arkansas (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Georgetown (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 9 Kansas vs. TCU (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 10 Louisville vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 12 Arizona vs. Washington State (3:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)
No. 13 Kansas State vs. Texas (8:00 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)
No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
No. 16 New Mexico vs. No. 22 Colorado State (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
No. 17 Marquette vs. Villanova (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
No. 21 Memphis vs. Southern Miss (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)
No. 23 Oregon vs. Stanford (8:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)
No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth vs. Xavier (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Other Notable Games
Iona vs. Indiana State (11:00 a.m. ET, ESPNU)
Canisius vs. Vermont (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Eastern Kentucky vs. Valparaiso (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Montana vs. Davidson (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
NC State vs. North Carolina (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Tennessee vs. Texas A&M (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Detroit vs. Wichita State (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Baylor vs. Oklahoma (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Nevada vs. San Diego State (6:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
California vs. Oregon State (6:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)
Creighton vs. St. Mary’s (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Missouri vs. Kentucky (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Illinois State vs. Utah State (9:00 p.m. ET)
Ohio vs. Belmont (10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Washington vs. Arizona State (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
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